The MLO Minute: “Don’t Let Bullying Ruin Your Child’s Return to School”
The return to school is an exciting time for most children and their families every year, but for children who experience bullying, it can be a painful experience brought with anxiety and can lead to depression, physical ailments, and school avoidance, among other manifestations. Bullying can have many ugly faces, and may be physical, emotional, verbal, or electronic.
Up to 20% of students 12 to 18 years old experience bullying in the U.S. each year, and only 46% notify an adult at school about the bullying, according to StopBullying.gov, which is a resource managed by the Department of Health and Human Resources dedicated to providing information about bullying.
Talking about bullying before it happens sets the stage for preventing and addressing the problem. Children who are bullied might remain quiet out of fear, shame, or embarrassment. Warning signs may be vague, and some may mimic mental health issues. They may include resistance to attending school or feigning illness to avoid school, social withdrawal, or acting out behaviors. If you suspect or know your child is being bullied, it’s important to be proactive.
Moreover, the adolescent years are times when students’ bodies are changing, and oftentimes harmful remarks about these changes can be a particularly painful source of bullying. The following link provides important information about assisting children in addressing this terrible scourge: How To Support Kids Facing Unwanted Back-to-School Comments About Their Appearance.
Unfortunately, children with disabilities are often particular targets of bullying. They can be seen as “different” or as easy targets. Each year, we assist a great many families in addressing school-based bullying and in developing programs and services in schools to assist children with special needs who experience bullying. In many cases, compensatory education is obtained for the child to access outside counseling and develop self-advocacy skills, and in some cases a change in the school environment at public expense is necessary.
In all of our special education matters, our initial consultation is free, and most matters are handled without hourly charges to the families we represent. Please do not hesitate to contact us through our website or by calling our office. We look forward to assisting your family.